Limited research studies have revealed that controlled use of psychedelic drugs show some success in therapies of conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction.
A team from the University of British Columbia, Canada, say that psychedelic substances, such as LSD, psilocybin, which is found in magic mushrooms, dimethyltryptamine, more commonly known as DMT, mescaline and MDMA (ecstasy) have a powerful influence on a person's "conscious experience".
Dr Evan Wood, professor of medicine and Canada research chair from the University of British Columbia, and co-authors write in their paper published in CMAJ: "The re-emerging paradigm of psychedelic medicine may open clinical doors and therapeutic doors long closed."
One "small" study that the researchers conducted revealed that LSD-assisted psychotherapy has the potential to reduce anxiety, whereas psilocybin has the potential to be used in the treatment of alcohol addiction as the amount of alcohol consumed and the number of days in which it was drunk was reduced in a separate limited study. Thirdly, one test revealed that MDMA helped reduce the symptoms of PTSD in sufferers of chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. All the research was garnered from tests carried out in the 1950s and 1960s.
"Continued medical research and scientific inquiry into psychedelic drugs may offer new ways to treat mental illness and addiction in patients who do not benefit from currently available treatments," write the authors.
"Although methodological and political challenges remain to some degree, recent clinical studies have shown that studies on psychedelics as therapeutic agents can conform to the rigorous scientific, ethical and safety standards expected of contemporary medical research."
They conclude that further studies will need to be conducted in order to determine sufficient results.